State’s medical marijuana sales on pace to eclipse last year’s record of $270M

FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2019 file photo, marijuana grows at an indoor cannabis farm in Gardena, Calif.

Arkansans spent $23.2 million on medical marijuana in July, putting the state on pace to pass record sales from last year, the Department of Finance and Administration reported Monday.

From January to July of 2023, Arkansas medical cannabis patients spent $164.6 million on the drug, a $7.3 million increase from the first seven months of 2022. July's sales account for 5,157 pounds of medical marijuana, bringing the year's total to 34,214.

Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the Department of Finance, said July's sales numbers show that the state is on track to eclipse last year's record sales of $270 million.

"If sales remain consistent for the next several months, we will complete 2023 with total sales reaching more than $280 million," Hardin said in a news release. "The state collected $2.5 million in tax revenue from medical marijuana in July. This brings total medical marijuana tax revenue in 2023 to $18.5 million, and $108 million since the first dispensary opened in May 2019."

Compared with other months, July ranked fifth in 2023 for sales. March had the most sales with $25 million, while February had the lowest at $22.4 million, according to Hardin. The $18.5 million in tax revenue the state has collected from medical marijuana sales through July 2023 is slightly down from this time last year, when it was at $18.7 million. While overall sales were up, tax revenue does not necessarily reflect sales numbers, Hardin said.

The dispensaries that sold the most medical cannabis were Suite 443 of Hot Springs, which sold 551.7 pounds in July, and Natural Relief Dispensary in Sherwood, which sold 462.1 pounds.

The numbers show a trend in the growth in the market for medical cannabis in Arkansas, which voters legalized through a constitutional amendment in 2016. Since the first dispensaries in the state opened in the state in 2019, Arkansas has seen a continual growth in the number of patients with active cards, which is 94,059, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Health. This time last year, there were 88,893 Arkansans with patient cards.